Next time anyone says nursing in S’pore is an easy job, let them read this note

It doesn't have to be such a thankless vocation.

By Belmont Lay | August 1, 2017

A young lady, Charlene Teo, who clearly has had it up to here with people belittling the nursing vocation in Singapore, took to Facebook about two years ago to pen a heartfelt note to defend her future profession.

She made it clear — in no uncertain terms — what nursing entails: Dedication, long hours, extensive medical and procedural knowledge that is on par with the information doctors possess, and most importantly, the need to cultivate the human touch in treating patients who they spend a majority of their time with.

Essentially, without nurses, doctors and patients are helpless.

Moreover, within the short note, the sacrifices nursing students, and eventually, all nurses have to make, is summarised in this sentence of hers:

We spend half of every uni holidays at hospitals for attachments, waking up as early as 5am and knocking off as late as 9pm. During our breaks, we scroll through Instagram, enviously looking at people shopping in Hong Kong, soaking in the sun at Bali or eating good food at Bangkok. We spend our holidays in the hospitals trying to learn how to apply what we have learnt. We learn how to talk to patients, how to talk to their relatives and how to work with other fellow healthcare colleagues.

So, the next time anyone begrudges nurses and what they do, you can refer them to this note:

This is the post in full in case you cannot see it:

“Nursing clean buttocks only, need to study anything one meh?”

This is the question that pisses me off the most because we are all slogging our butts off studying but somehow our efforts are always belittled.

We study anatomy/pathophysiology/immunology which are essentially deemed as ‘doctors knowledge’. We need the knowledge to anticipate any complications, explain to you the rationales behind your sickness and allay your fears. Doctors are great, but as we spend the most time beside you, we are probably the ones who will spot the first signs of complications and report them to the doctor. They are great, but we are the ones with time to hold your hands before you enter the operation theatre, explaining to you what is going on and why you are going to come out alright.

We study Pharmacology. Yes, we don’t prescribe the medications to you but we are the ones who feed you the medications. We double and triple check to ensure that you are not allergic to it and that your medications do not react with each other. We memorise the drug names, their mechanism of actions, drug-drug interactions and the adverse effects just so that we can be sure that what we are feeding you will not kill you instead. On days where you refuse to eat your medications, we coax you by trying to link how medications can help to you feel better. When you are puzzled as to why you must take some meds in the morning, some at night and put some meds at weird places like under your tongue, we will try our best to explain to you.

Most definitely, we learn Nursing modules such as how to bathe you when you cannot walk, how to feed you when you cannot swallow and how to care for you when you are incapable of caring for yourself. You think it’s low skilled and ‘common sense what’. Honestly, one of the most difficult tasks I’ve faced during attachment was changing a diarrhoea filled diaper when the patient had a urine catheter+ drainage tube+ an arm fracture. We spend half of every uni holidays at hospitals for attachments, waking up as early as 5am and knocking off as late as 9pm. During our breaks, we scroll through Instagram, enviously looking at people shopping in Hong Kong, soaking in the sun at Bali or eating good food at Bangkok. We spend our holidays in the hospitals trying to learn how to apply what we have learnt. We learn how to talk to patients, how to talk to their relatives and how to work with other fellow healthcare colleagues.

OK IN CONCLUSION, IT IS DIFFICULT TO STUDY. BUT STUDYING IS REALLY MADE MORE DIFFICULT WHEN PEOPLE DON’T VALUE THE EFFORT YOU SPEND STUDYING.

Here are totally unrelated but equally interesting articles:

This is cereals news: BreadTalk to launch new cereal floss bun, available for 8 days only

One of Us: Nothing to see here, it’s just a bowling alley supervisor turned kickass club DJ

Top photo via

Related article:

‘Hello I’m your nurse’ is a newfangled social media thing to give a voice, face to nurses in S’pore

About Belmont Lay

Belmont can pronounce "tchotchke".

Morning Commute

Interesting stories to discuss with your colleagues in office later

Close